The last time that Enda Kenny set foot in Tuam, he was jeered and heckled by around 100 water charges protesters, but when he returned to the town as part of the election campaign it was – literally – child’s play.
The Taoiseach arrived in Tuam to visit a local crèche and speak about providing better services for children and their parents. It was easy peasy. Not a bit of hassle.
It was all very civilised as Enda arrived in his seven-series Beemer at the Daisy Chain Child Care Centre in the Clochran estate and it was somewhat ironic that the first person he shook hands with was Garda Michael Joyce, a native of Castlebar stationed in Tuam.
“Maybe we are doing something right,” opined Deputy Paul Connaughton when it was remarked upon that there was no one there that had anything to protest about.
But then, his arrival in Tuam was something of a ‘best kept secret’ in that the media notices of his coming were sent out about an hour before he was due to attend the crèche. In fact it was only confirmed to the crèche owners earlier in the week.
That probably accounts for the fact that the welcoming crowd was mainly made up of parents of the children attending the facility – there was nearly a bigger media presence there than there were members of the public.
Among the welcoming party were Deputies Connaughton and Ciaran Cannon along with Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council Cllr Pete Roche and Cllr Tom McHugh, who actually built the estate in which the day care facility is located.
It was a case of going through the motions as he met the parents, gave a press briefing, fielded some issues-of-the-day questions from the national media before mingling with the children and playing with their blocks.
Enda has a great ability to ramble onto various other matters when asked a direct question. For example, he was asked if a vote management strategy had been considered for Galway East – as had been the case in the past.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
TALLIES: Fine Gael will struggle to hold seat in City East
Fine Gael will struggle to hold its seat in Galway City East.
TALLIES: Cheevers looks set to take a seat in City East
With just over half the boxes tallied for Galway City East, Fianna Fáil’s Alan Cheevers looks set to take a seat, polling at over 17 per cent of first preferences.
With Mervue, Ballybane and Tirellan polling stations still to be tallied, Cheevers has taken the lead, with Independent councillor Terry O’Flaherty slipping into second with 16 per cent.
Incumbent Fianna Fáil councillor Mike Crowe is on 10.5 per cent, with Independent councillor Declan McDonnell on 8 per cent.
The Green’s Claire Hillery looks to be benefitting from the party’s nationwide jump in the polls, collecting 6.5 per cent of first preferences.
Sitting Councillors Noel Larkin (Ind), Mairéad Farrell (SF) and John Walsh (FG) are polling at 7.5 per cent, 5.7 per cent and 6.7 per cent respectively.
Also still in contention is the Social Democrats’ Owen Hanley with 6.6 per cent of the vote.
Deal demands better focus on rural Ireland initiatives
A concession on turf cutting, an examination of the decision to close rural Garda stations and post offices – as well as flood alleviation – are all on the shopping list for at least two of Galway’s independent TDs before any agreement to support a new Government.
Both Michael Fitzmaurice from Glinsk and Sean Canney from Tuam have been in discussions with the main parties since the general election with a view to securing their support.
They are part of the six-strong Independent Alliance which also includes Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran and Shane Ross – but top of their list concerns they have regarding rural Ireland.
It is understood that part of any deal would see some concession on the whole turf cutting controversy, while the issue of the closure of rural Garda Stations and rural post offices are also high on the agenda.
Deputy Canney said that so too was the recent flooding crisis and added that many farmers and individual householders were still suffering.
The Independent Alliance will hold further discussions with the parties and Deputy Canney emphasised that they were not demanding ministerial positions but just a better deal for rural Ireland.
They are demanding, however, that there will be a full Minister for Rural Affairs appointed once the new government is formed.
Deputy Canney added that it was being suggested that a TD in each constituency would report back to this department.